Sunday, 29 May 2016

Let It Be Cafe & Eatery, Mae Rim Plaza

Lazy Sunday lunch with a friend. Mae Rim area. The easy choice is Mae Rim Plaza where there are now several new restaurants and cafes.

The obvious choice for me whenever I get a chance to go there is Steak of The Day and Fukuro, but today, we wanted to try something else and came across a cute small cafe called Let It Be.

The cafe looked very inviting, the menu, surprisingly, is more like an Italian restaurant's menu than a cafe, and importantly on a hot day (isn't it always hot in Chiang Mai?), it's air conditioned!

The cafe itself is quite small (one shophouse) and only had about 5 tables inside and 1 table outside. There wasn't many people when we arrived, but the small eatery quickly filled up with patrons. They had quite a good turn over too without being too crowded. We also felt very comfortable, enjoying our lunch and chatting away for quite some time and never felt rushed.

The menu was surprisingly quite extensive. There were several Western / Italian dishes - pasta and pizza; steak and grilled dishes - beef, pork, chicken, sausage and fish as well as some Thai dishes and salads.

We opted for the Lunch Set Menu that had several choices of mains as well as a drink, salad or soup and ice cream. I chose the Spaghetti Ham & Dry Chilli set for 175 baht.

The first course - House Salad. This was quite lovely, served with a light sesame dressing on crispy and fresh lettuce. There were also tender slices of duck on the top.

Salad with Duck and Lipton Iced Tea
For the main, I chose the Ham and Dry Chilli Spaghetti. It was lovely, a little spicy and had lots of garlic!

Ham and Dry Chilli Spaghetti

And for dessert... Ice Cream with Fruit Salad. It's a nice finish to the meal. Let It Be also have several desserts on the menu eg. Banana Split, Crepe Suzette and Chocolate Lava so there are a few choices for those with a sweet tooth too.

Vanilla Ice Cream with Fruit Salad
Incidentally, my friend ordered the Carbonara lunch set. She wanted a vegetarian version, made with mushrooms and the chef had no problems making it for her.

Let It Be Cafe & Eatery
Mae Rim Plaza
Tel: 091 869 5962, 094 610 1115
Facebook page:
GPS Co-Ordinates:  18.91588, 98.94223

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Friday, 20 May 2016

Shogun Japanese Restaurant

Driving home one night, I suddenly noticed a sign - a new Japanese restaurant has opened near Samyak Market, Sansai. The lightbox outside the restaurant had an enticing photo of a large plate of sushi. The restaurant looked quite cute too and had a Japanesy feel.

Since then, I've been there a couple of times and has found the food to be pretty good. It's not Kitchen Hush, but Shogun provides good quality, good value for money and close to home, which means it's a place we can often visit!

Gyoza - one of my favourite snacks at a Japanese restaurant. Shogun's gyoza is very good. Crispy skin with juicy pork filling and slightly tangy and refreshing dipping sauce. 79baht.

Small Sushi Set - a plate of assorted sushi. The salmon was pretty good. The tuna was a bit chewy. Overall quite decent. 299 baht.

And here is my favourite dish, the Korean Chicken. Deep-fried bite sizes of chicken with skin and smothered with a thick, salty and sticky sauce. Yum! The chicken was slightly chewy (which I didtn't mind) and  the skin was nice and crispy. The side cabbage didn't have a dressing on it, so it seemed quite bland after eating the chicken. However, the gyoza dipping sauce makes a nice salad dressing! 119 baht.

If you need some more side dishes to fill you up, Shogun offers 3 rice sets. You can choose from the regular plain steamed rice, garlic fried rice or kimchi fried rice. These come with side dishes of a salad, miso soup and some kimchi. This time I ordered the garlic fried rice. It was lovely with buttery fragrance. A little oily though. The garlic fried rice set was 79 baht.

These rice sets are quite good idea, I think, as diners can order any mains they like to go with the rice set.

The verdict - a nice little restaurant with good food and offering good value for money. The staff is very friendly. Shogun has a cosy ambience and makes you feel like you're in a little restaurant in Japan.

Shogun Japanese Restaurant
Chiang Mai-Doi Saket Rd (118)
Sansai, Chiang Mai.
(On the left just pass Samyak Market)
Tel: 0966987181
Facebook page:โชกุน-1559529397710577/timeline
Opens: Daily 11am-10pm

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Friday, 1 April 2016

Salsa Kitchen (Mexican Food)

Mexican food! Admittedly, I really don't know much about Mexican cuisine and it's not something that I usually sought out. There wasn't much of it around when I was growing up in Sydney. In Chiang Mai though, there are several Mexican restaurants and I've heard that many of them are very good.

I've been to Salsa Kitchen several times over the years to both of their branches - the original one on Huay Kaew Rd, and recently, they opened another branch near Meechok Plaza. I've always found the food to be consistently good. The restaurant it self has a nice and cheerful vibe with all the colourful walls and chairs. The staff is friendly. The food does take some time to come out though, but it's worth the wait!

Last time I visited with a couple of friends, I ordered Mango Chicken Quesadillas - 199 baht -  flour tortillas filled with grilled marinated chicken breast, mozzarella cheese and topped with a mango salsa. It was simple, hearty and delicious! The tortillas were nice and soft and not too dry (which was the case with another Mexican restaurant that I tried another time). The filling was full of subtle flavour of chicken and mozzarella. The mango salsa added to the liveliness of the dish. The quesadilla was served with some Mexican red rice; refried beans; corn and condiments - sour cream and home made salsas, but I didn't feel that I needed to add extra flavours. All the different textures and flavours really worked well together and altogether made a super filling dish! I couldn't finish it all.

We also ordered a plate of Vegetarian Nachos to share (189 baht). Again, this was delicious and vibrant in flavour.

Salsa Kitchen also serves a variety of drinks including magaritas, sangrias and beers. I usually order the lemonade with soda (39 baht) and I love it - cool, sweet and refreshing for a hot day.

Vegetarian and gluten free options are available! 

Salsa Kitchen


Huay Kaew Branch
26/4 Huay Kaew Rd
(Down the road from Kad Suan Kaew, opposite Caltex Service Station)
There's free parking on the side street in front of Nakornping Condo
Opens: Daily 11am - 11pm
Tel: 053 216 605

Ruamchoke Branch
About 200m west of Meechok Plaza
Opens: 11am - 10pm
Closed: Tuesdays 
Tel: 094 613 4535

Map: (See purple markers)

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Monday, 28 March 2016

Tum Sap Pun Nua Lao Cuisine (ตําแซ่บ พันนัว)

Not knowing much about Laos food, I was curious. Looking at the name, "Tum Sap", I guessed that it would probably serve a variety of somtums (papaya salad), and I was right!

Tum Sap Pun Nua is a chic modern looking restaurant with a spacious, open feel. It's actually quite a comfortable place to sit and enjoy a meal. I've been there several times and thought the food there excellent. Surprisingly though, whenever I go, the restaurant seem to be quiet (which is nice for me!).

The menu, as I mentioned, had a large variety of papaya salads to choose from. We opted for the Tum Thai. I know, I know, I shouldn't be ordering Thai food in a Laos restaurant, but "Tum Thai" is my favourite variety of som tum. Tum Lao (I don't know if this is really the Lao version, or if Thai people just calls it that!) also contains fermented fish, which does give the papaya salad a particular flavour. I can eat it, but it's just not something I truly enjoy.. but that's just me. :P

The papaya salad at Tum Sap Pun Nua at 65 baht, is not the cheapest of somtums, but it was well made and well flavoured. I noticed that it is not as sweet as "Tum Thai" from Thai som tum places where I normally would have to ask for "not sweet", and it also had the perfect amount of spiciness for me (where in other places, it would have been too hot. I would normally ask for 2 chillis).

Pho Vientian (beef). I really enjoyed the broth. I thought the soup was lovely and also it is served with various condiments, including some shrimp paste, lime and chilli on the side. The broth is already great without anything else added, but I did add the shrimp paste and lime to see what it would taste like (lovely too - with a richer, earthier flavour). The serving was quite big and there was a lot of noodles. I wouldn't have minded less noodles and more soup! The beef was a bit tough. 85 baht. You can choose between pork (75 baht), chicken (75 baht) , beef (85 baht) or fish (95 baht).

Ua Trakai Luang Prabang. Luang Prabang Herbed Sausage. 85 baht. This is Tum Sap Pun Nua's version of the much loved Chiang Mai Sausages (Sai ua). In this version, pork is mixed with various herbs and lemongrass and the "sausage" is placed in a "nest" of lemongrass and deep fried. Lovely and fragrant. The sausages were a little rich if eaten by themselves, but goes well with the ginger (served on the side).

Tum Sap Pun Nua also serves a variety of other dishes that I'd love to try. Their fried fish is also excellent.

All in all, I always enjoy dining at this restaurant. The atmosphere is lovely, air-conditioning cool (very important especially in this very hot weather), friendly staff and excellent food. I think the food here is also quite good value. Our dinner for 2 set us back around 230 baht and we were really full!

Tum Sap Pun Nua ตําแซ่บ พันนัว
V Community, 1st Ring Road, next to Payap University
Tel: 089 758 4408, 053 126075
Opens: 10am - 10pm daily
GPS location: 18.798926,99.032916

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Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Lumdee Ti Kua Daeng (ลำดีตี้ขัวแดง)

I was first taken to this restaurant, whose names literally means "Delicious at the Red Bridge", by a Chinese customer who lives in Chiang Mai. I have driven past V Community next to Payap University so many times without even realising that there's a restaurant there.  I've seen their signature red bridge in many social networking sites, but never thought of going myself.

So there I was, with a Chinese family who spoke very little English and Thai, and me with my broken mandarin. Somehow we managed to communicate, did business together and ended up together at this restaurant.

Lumdee Ti Kua Daeng has a large indoor and outdoor sections. BTW, a big thank you to Zalora for the bag! I love it!

I was taken straight away by the large and very reasonably priced menu. Their favourite is the Deep Fried Tilapia with Herbs, and wow, it was good. They told me that you can get an even better one in Lamphun! These Chinese people do get around! LOL.

Since then, I've been back many times with my family and also have brought visitors here and everyone enjoyed the food here very much.

The real test though was my last visit when I brought a local Chiang Mai friend who just came home from a stint overseas and a Thai friend from Lamphun. I wanted to know how authentic a Northen Thai restaurant Lumdee Ti Kua Daeng is and I'm glad to say my friends gave their thumbs up.

The spread.. The food even came out all around the same time!

Pla Tubtim Tod Samunpri (Deep-fried Tilapia with Herbs). 200 baht. This is the fried fish that I was talking about earlier. It's not exactly Northern food, but it's good!  The fish meat is cut up into cubes, deep fried then reassembled on the fish and the the herbal sauce is poured over the whole thing. The cubed fillets were very nicely fried, slightly crunchy on the outside and soft and pillowy on the inside. Just the right amount of sauce is absorbed into the thin flour batter, leaving it full of flavour, yet still crunchy. Perfect. The price is great too - normally you'd expect to pay 300 baht for something like this at other restaurants.

Deep-Fried Tilapia with Herbs

Fried Chiangda and Tomato with Egg. 60 baht. Chiangda (Gymnema, a herb with blood sugar lowering properties) is stir-fried with eggs and tomatoes. This is a dish with more subtle, slightly salty flavour and makes a great (and healthy) combination with other dishes, especially spicy ones.

Fried Chiang Da and Tomato with Egg

Naem Peek Gai Khua Daeng. Northern style cured chicken wings. 80 baht. "Naem" dishes have been fermented to give a sour flavour. I normally quite enjoy naem pork. The chicken wings are pretty good, but I found it a little too sour. Served with roasted peanuts, ginger and chilli.

Naem Chicken Wings

Gai Muang Neung. Steamed chicken with herbs. 90 baht. It was delicious and full of flavour. The "soup" was fantastic too. In this dish, the chicken pieces are steamed with various herbs (such as tumeric, garlic and lemongrass). Yum!

Steamed Chicken With Herbs

Nam Prik Ong. 50baht. This is a classic northern Thai pork, tomato and chilli dip. Actually, there are many different chilli dips you can try at Lumdee Ti Kua Daeng. This is my Lamphun friend's favourite Northern Dish and he said Lumdee's Nam Prik Ong has all the right flavours. The chilli dips are served with steamed vegetables (or sometime fresh herbs and veggies depending on the restaurant). Lovely and not too spicy with the veggies and steamed rice or sticky rice.

Nam Prik Ong
Lamdee Ti Kua Daeng also serves many northern soup dishes. I've been told that all the soups are made fresh to each order. Most of the dishes are not all that spicy either. There are also more adventurous dishes to try like the soup with ant eggs!

The service is friendly, efficient and quick. The food is great, and quite inexpensive.

Lumdee Ti Kua Daeng
V Community
345 Moo 3
T. Sanphranet, A Sansai, Chiang Mai
Tel: 086 688 3688
GPS Location: 18.799160, 99.033259

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Friday, 5 February 2016

Fukuro Japanese Restaurant

I've had cravings for Japanese food all week! After a busy and tiring week, a friend thought it would be good to go to one of the many Japanese restaurants in Central Festival. Central Festival is a convenient choice - close to home and has very good parking, but I felt I wanted to go to a small, homey and more personal place.

I remembered Fukuro. I've been there a few times before and was always impressed with the food and the price. The owner is an ex-Four Seasons chef, and the unassuming Japanese Restaurant is located right next door to the very popular Steak of the Day at Mae Rim Plaza.

Mae Rim Plaza is a bit of a hike from my home in Sansai / Doi Saket area (about 30 min or so drive), but it was totally worth the trip.

This little restaurant only has a few tables, and is very homey and comfortable. Khun Nes, the owner came out and made a few recommendations from the Specials of the Day board.

Eggplant Miso Sauce. 79 baht. These were wonderful and very different from what I've had in other restaurants. In other restaurants that I've been to, the eggplants are covered with miso sauce (which I love as well!). Fukuro's version has just a touch of the sauce and the eggplant is sprinkled with sesame seeds and bonito flakes, which gives a smokey flavour. All the flavours worked well together.  Khun Nes said the eggplants are organic and she gets them from a local farmer in Pong Yang, so the supply is quite limited.

Japanese Pork Hot Pot. 199 baht. This was a great dish for a cool night! Loved the soup, which was sweet but not overly so.

Salmon Sashimi - 99 baht (4 pieces). Beautiful melt in your mouth sashimi. Delicious!

After all that, we had room for one more dish...

Crunchy Roll. 89 baht. This is not your traditional Japanese dish, and it provided a stark contrast between this and the previous dishes which had subtler, softer flavour. The sushi rolls are made, covered in a small amount of batter and fried. Served with chilli-mayonnaise sauce.

And just as we were ready to pay the bill, Khun Nes surprised us with a complimentary dessert to thank us for coming such a long way!

The dessert of the day was.... Strawberry with Marshmallow Toffee Cream. 99 baht. Wow, it was good - creamy and refreshing. The toffee cream was lovely and smooth (with a nice caramelly flavour) and sprinkled with tiny marshmallows. There was nothing left on the plate after we were through with it!

We enjoyed our meal at Fukuro very much. Too bad it's a bit of a drive otherwise I would go there all the time!

339 Moo 1
Mae Rim Plaza
A. Mae Rim, Chiang Mai
Tel: 0867832034
Opens: 11am - 9pm
Closes on Tuesdays
Facebook page:

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Monday, 25 January 2016

How To Order Noodles In A Thai Noodle Shop

Have you ever been to noodles shops in Thailand and getting something the vendor thinks you want or wants to give you instead of really getting what you want?

Often, non-Thai speakers have trouble communicating with the vendor, so you end up getting what the vendor thinks you want, or just the "standard" dish, which is probably fine.

However, if you'd like to take control of what you're ordering and actually order what you want to eat rather than leaving it up to the mercy of the vendor, this guide is for you!

The Steps

1. Choose your noodles

Here are the more common noodles (kway tiew ก๋วยเตี๋ยว) you can get in a noodle shop:

  1. "Sen Yaiเส้นใหญ่  -  Soft, wide, flat rice noodles
  2. "Sen Lek"  เส้นเล็ก-  Thin, flat rice noodles
  3. "Ba Meeบะหมี่ - Yellow egg noodles
  4. "Sen Meeเส้นหมี่ or "Mee Khao" - thin rice noodles, also known as "bee hoon" & vermicelli.
  5. "Woon senวุ้นเส้น - Clear glass noodles. These are made from mung beans.
  6. There is also another type of noodle soup  you can get, that is getting a noodle soup without noodles! This variation is called "Gao Laoเกาเหลา 

2. Decide how you want your soup

  1. "Haengแห้ง, literally, "dry" - The noodles / extra bits are cooked in the stock, but served without the soup. 
  2. "Namน้ำ, literally, "water" - with soup
  3. "Yentafoเย็นตาโฟ   these are the pink noodle soup. The pink in the soup comes from fermented soy beans. It's generally served with "sen yai" (soft wide noodles) with morning glory and a cube of coagulated pig's blood. You can always take out the blood if you don't want to eat it (or ask for "mai sai leud" - no blood). 
  4. "Tom Yum" ต้มยำ  - The soup is pre-seasoned with lime juice, chilli powder, fish sauce and crushed peanuts, so tom yum noodles are usually quite spicy and sometimes quite sweet. I usually ask for "mai wan" (not sweet). You can also ask for "mai ped" (not spicy). This is usually available for noodles with pork or fish (not beef).

Ba Mee Tom Yum See Khrong Moo (Egg noodles, tom yum soup, pork ribs)

    For example, I mostly order "sen lek nam" (thin noodles with soup).

    However, when I have BBQ pork / cha siew and wontons, I always get "ba mee haeng" - yellow egg noodles without soup.

    3. Choose your meat

    Generally each noodle shop with have their own specialty. For example, a shop might only sell beef (and beef innards) noodles, some shop have fish balls and fish dumplings, other shops have BBQ pork/cha siew and wontons. 

    Beef Noodles:
    Generally, beef noodles contain beef, various beef internal organs (heart, stomach, liver, etc) and beef balls (look chin neur). If you just ask for beef noodles, you'll get everything (or whatever the vendor wants to give you). If you don't want certain bits, you'll need to be more specific! 

    Kuaytiew Neur ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเนื้อ / Kuaytiew Neur Ruam ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเนื้อรวม = the works! ie. beef + internal organs + beef balls
    Neur sod เนื้อสด= raw beef (quickly dipped in boiling water before serving, so you're not actually eating raw beef)
    Neur toon เนื้อตุ๋น  = stewed, melt in the mouth beef
    Look chin (neur) ลูกชิ้น (เนื้อ) เครื่องใน= beef balls
    Kreung Nai เครื่องใน = internal organs / entrails

    Sen Mee Nam Neur Sod  = Vermicelli noodles, soup, "raw" beef only
    Sen Lek Haeng Look Chin = Thin noodles, dry, beef balls only

    If you want to leave out something:
    "Mai Sai" ไม่ใส่ / "Mai" ไม่ / "Mai Ao" ไม่เอา = Don't put in... / Don't want

    Baa Mee Haeng (Neur) Mai Sai Kreung Nai = Dry beef noodles without entrails. 

    Pork Noodles:

    Moo sub หมูสับ = Minced Pork
    Kreung Nai เครื่องใน= internal organs / entrail
    Moo toon หมูตุ๋น - stewed pork
    Look chin (moo) ลูกชิ้น (หมู) = pork balls
    See krong (moo) ซี่โครง (หมู) = pork ribs

    Sen Lek Tom Yum See Krong Moo = Tom yum thin noodles with pork ribs. 
    (One of my favourites!)

    Note: Depending on the shop, not everything may be available.

    Fish Ball Noodles:

    Look Chin Pla ลูกชิ้น ปลา= fish balls (which may come in various shapes and flavours, and may not necessarily look like a ball)
    Kiew Pla เกี๊ยว ปลา = fish wonton / dumplings

    Sen Yai Yentafo. This will give you wide noodles, yentafo style with all the varieties of fish balls and wontons (if the shop sells them). 

    BBQ Pork:
    You'll see Chinese BBQ Pork/cha siew hung up in the cabinet in front of BBQ pork noodle shops. Sometimes these shops will have pork wontons as well. 

    Kiew (Moo) เกี๊ยว (หมู)  = Pork wonton
    Moo Daeng หมูแดง ="Red" pork / BBQ pork / cha siew

    My favourite is the Ba Mee Haeng Moo Daeng = Egg Noodles (Dry) with BBQ Pork. 
    If you want pork wonton and BBQ Pork: Ba Mee Nam Kiew Moo Daeng = Egg noodle soup with wonton and BBQ pork. 

    Sounds complicated? Here's a summary.

    You can save the picture on your phone and take it with you to noodle shops to try it out!

    Good luck and enjoy!

    PS. I forgot to mention that you can order the noodles in the regular size or large size.

    Regular size = tammada  ธรรมดา
    Large = Piset  (literally, special)  พิเศษ

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